Ulysses Owens, Jr.
Heralded as a “powerhouse of a showman” (Glide Magazine), a “legitimate jazz triple threat” (Critical Jazz) and a drummer who “take[s] a back seat to no one” (The New York Times), performer, producer and educator Ulysses Owens Jr. goes the limit in the jazz world and beyond.
One of the most sought-after drummers of his generation, Owens sets the mark. From GRAMMY award-winning performances with Christian McBride’s acclaimed Trio and Big Band to world tours with Kurt Elling and Joey Alexander, Owens’s artistic command of percussion has earned him positions in some of the most successful jazz ensembles of the 21st century. Owens’s reverence for tradition distinctly manifests in his straight-away playing style, but it is the versatility of his talent— his unique ability to manipulate texture and create penetrating musical shapes— that attracts the attention of jazz’s heavy hitters. His performance catalog includes collaborations with Nicholas Payton, Wynton Marsalis, Monty Alexander, Dianne Schurr, Renee Fleming and Mulgrew Miller, just to name a few.
A burgeoning force in the industry, Owens has been named a Rising Star by DownBeat’s Critics Poll for five years straight. He is a recipient of the 2013 ASCAP Plus Award, a Gold Medal winner of the 2014 Global Music Awards, a 2015 Jazz at Lincoln Center Swing! Awards Honoree, and 2019 “3rd Runner-Up,” in Classic Jazz Category in the Modern Drummer Magazine Readers Poll. Still, most notable of Owens’s accomplishments are his performances on the 2010 GRAMMY award-winning Kurt Elling live album, Dedicated to You, and the 2012 GRAMMY award-winning Christian McBride Big Band album, The Good Feeling. His work with Joey Alexander, the Christian McBride Trio, and Gregory Porter have also received recognition by the Recording Academy, garnering GRAMMY nominations for the albums; My Favorite Things, Countdown, Out Here , Live at the Village Vanguard, Nat King Cole and Me.
At the heart of Owens’s work is a passion for creation and the desire to reach new audiences. On and off stage, music emanates from every inch of his being, and no performance goes unmarked by Owens’s signature smile. Owens is a gifted bandleader, claiming five successful albums of his own (It’s Time for U, Unanimous, Onward and Upward, Falling Forward, Songs of Freedom.) and four self-produced albums with the New Century Jazz Quintet (Time is Now, In Case You Missed Us, Arise, and Soul Conversion), a skillful group he co-leads with pianist Takeshi Ohbayashi in Japan. Owens’s band-first philosophy ensures that all conversations with an audience remain fluid and focused, another stamp of his seasoned expertise and professional sophistication.Read more
- Falling Forward by James Nadal
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